Ernesto Valverde makes promise to Man Utd and Chelsea target Sergi Roberto

ERNESTO VALVERDE has promised Sergi Roberto that he is in his plans next season.

The Barcelona boss is keen to keep hold of the 25-year-old midfielder who has been attracting the attention of Premier League clubs.

Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked with the midfielder.

They have been tipped to trigger his £36m release clause amid claims he is unhappy at the Nou Camp.

And the arrival of Paulinho yesterday was thought to the the final nail in the coffin of the Spaniard.

Sergi RobertoGETTY

Sergi Roberto has been told he will start games this season

“I am absolutely counting on him”

Ernesto Valverde

But Barcelona’s boss says Roberto will be an important, if infrequently used, player this term.

Valverde said: “Of course yes, I am absolutely counting on him.

“Will he be a starter? Yes.

Ernesto ValverdeGETTY

Ernesto Valverde wants Sergi Roberto to stay at Barcelona

“In some games he will be a major player and in some games no, but he remains an important player.”

Roberto’s pre-season has been punctuated with substitute appearances, with Valverde opting for a midfield three of Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.

He was on the bench again on Sunday in the Spanish Super Cup defeat against Real Madrid.

Roberto had to settle for just a 20 minute run-out after replacing Iniesta in the 3-1 defeat at the Nou Camp.